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Reviews - Kung Fu Fighting
 
by Dennis Hancock


Kung Fu Fighting boxKung Fu Fighting / More Kung Fu Fighting
Published by Slugfest Games
Designed by Geoff Bottone, Colleen Skadl, and Clifford Bohm
99-card deck, 6 glass markers, 6 character cards, and rulesheet
$19.95 (original game)
$9.95 (expansion)

What comes to mind when I say "Kung Fu"? Maybe your first thought is Bruce Lee, or perhaps Carl Douglas? Maybe even a little Kung Fu Theater or Kung Fu Hustle. Combine it all together and you've got 'Crazy-Kung-Fu-Death-Match-Chuck-Norris' chops upside the head... never mind the fact that Chuck Norris doesn't practice Kung Fu. Nor do I. I mean, let's face it, I'm a gamer and, like most gamers... I'm not the Kung Fu practicing sort, I'll just leave it at that. What's the next best thing? How about a card game that lets me pretend to know Kung Fu! SWEET! I give you Kung Fu Fighting!

The Game
Kung Fu Fighting is a game for 2-6 players and, like most other non-collectible card games on the market, everything you need to play comes in the one box. Inside each box you will find a 99-card deck, 6 glass chi markers, and 6 character cards. I have had the opportunity to play two versions of this game. One was an older version that had heavy paper character cards and a heavy cardstock deck of attack cards. I was glad to see the newer version I purchased had heavier stock, plastic-coated cards. Overall, the quality of materials in the newer version is good and should stand up to all but the most rough-and-tumble of game players. The quality of art on each card is pretty good as well – each card has an illustration of the action or item described. Some players may find the lack of any significant color on the cards and illustrations to be a bit of a turnoff. Each card is a muted yellow with the pictures in different shades of browns or black. This isn't really an issue to me at all, but some may find it a little drab in appearance.

I'm not really a big fan of the mini-novel rulebooks that some games come with. Kung Fu Fighting has simple rules that even I could pick up in one pass; the rules are literally five small 4" x 6" pages. There is no dilly-dallying around; they just get straight into the rules on how to play. Depending on how fast you read, you could be up and playing your first game within ten minutes. Speaking of time, the first game I ever played lasted about seven minutes with 3 players. Some people might not like such an ultra short game, I would just like to add that I have also played a game as long as 45 minutes with 4 players, it all depends on how the cards play. I would estimate the average game time of about 30 minutes for 3-4 players with longer games possible as more players are added.

The Gameplay
Kung Fu Fighting is a fast playing card game that bills its self as 'Martial Arts Brawling, Hong Kong Cinema Style', where your goal is to be the last one standing. Each player starts off with a character card and a glass bead to mark their current level of 'Chi' or inner strength. Once your Chi hits zero, your head hits the floor. The character cards also have spaces for your stance and a weapon card – each player is allowed to have one of each. Stances provide you with bonuses to your attacks or defense, but beware, young grasshopper, they also provide you a weakness towards one other stance. Weapons also provide you with some measure of attack or defense, for example; the staff provides 2 damage and 1 defense versus the table or chair, while the fan does 0 damage but provides 3 defense.

Kung Fu Fighting cardsLet's talk attacks for a second. Attacks are made up of one of five actions: a punch, kick, trip, throw, or weapon. Weapon attacks can only be played if you have a weapon currently played on your character card. The fun doesn't lie within the base attacks, though; the real fun is tied in with the attack enhancement cards. What are attack enhancements, you ask? Exactly what they sound like – they are played on basic attacks and cause extra damage. The best part is that they can be chained together with as many as you have in your combat hand. Your only limitation is you cannot duplicate enhancements. You could play a punch and then enhance that with 'Spinning', 'Running up the Wall', 'Flying', 'Wild', and 'Fast' attack enhancements. That isn't all, though. Can't decide which player you want to attack? Expand your options by playing a 'Split Attack' card on them, and suddenly two players have to fend off your fists of fury! Trips and throws also have the added benefit of making their recipient lose their active weapon or stance cards.

With all those fists and feet flying around, you might be wondering how a martial arts master is supposed to last the first round... DEFENSE! Defense is simple, it doesn't matter how many attack enhancements somebody plays on that kick aimed at your head, if you have a 'Block Kick' card you have blocked it. Pretty simple but there is one exception. 'When Done Right None Can Defend' is the mother of all attack enhancements. When this card is played on an attack it cannot be blocked unless you play the 'Your Kung Fu is Weak' or 'Your Kung Fu is No Match For Mine'.

Now with 20% more Kung Fu!
More Kung Fu Fighting boxThe creators of Kung Fu Fighting have also released More Kung Fu Fighting, an expansion for the original game. This expansion provides players with new stances, new weapons, new attack enhancements, stance enhancements, weapon enhancements, finishing moves, team play, and Archetypes. Now you can wield that 'Legendary' 'Demon Possessed' 'Ladder' 'Of the Ancients' that you have always wanted, or use that 'Drunken Stance' 'of the Master'. Regain chi when you knock somebody 'Through the Wall', 'Down the Stairs', or 'Out the Window'. Play as the 'Mysterious Stranger' or the 'Jade Princess' – each archetype has its own special abilities. Defend the honor of your friends in Team Play where you can share weapons or combine stances for powerful attacks.

Conclusion
Overall, I like Kung Fu Fighting. Even non-gamers will find it entertaining, though after a couple of games it can get a bit repetitive. The More Kung Fu Fighting expansion goes a long way to eliminate much of the repetitive aspect of the game. With that said, I think the game is well worth its cost and I recommend it to all gamers who like non-collectible card games. My past experience has shown that whenever I've introduced somebody to this game, they have purchased it soon after.

I give this game 4 boots to the head out of 5.

 
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